Tokyo: Asian stock markets turned lower on Wednesday, giving up early gains after a sluggish day on Wall Street and ongoing worries about inflation in China.
Oil prices rose to near $85 a barrel Wednesday in Asia after a report showed US crude supplies unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting demand may be improving.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.2% to 22,854.36, and the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 2,889.93.
Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore also retreated, while South Korea’s Kospi index was nearly flat at 2,011.36.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1% to 4,925.70. Among the day’s worst performers, BHP Billiton Ltd. shed 1.9% despite reporting robust earnings. The world’s biggest mining company said its first half net profit soared more than 71% in the six months through December.
Meanwhile, the Nikkei 225 stock average added 0.4% to 10,788.13.
Exporters, including electronics makers, generally rose as the dollar hovered in the upper ¥83 range. Toshiba Corp. was up 2.8%, Pioneer Corp. rose 2.6%, and Sharp Corp. rose 0.9%. Financial issues also advanced, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. up 2.3%.
In New York Tuesday, a surprisingly weak retail sales report drove stocks lower on Tuesday, giving the Dow Jones industrial average its second straight day of losses.
The Dow fell 41.55, or 0.3%, to close at 12,226.64. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4.31, or 0.3%, to 1,328.01. The Nasdaq composite index fell 12.83, or 0.5%, to 2,804.35.
In currencies, the dollar eased to ¥83.73 from ¥83.82 late Tuesday. The dollar rose from the lower ¥83 level overnight, at one point hitting a two-month high of ¥83.91. The euro stood at $1.3532 from $1.3492.
Benchmark crude oil for March delivery was up 33 cents at $84.65 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 49 cents to settle at $84.32 a barrel on Monday.